Learning from each others mistakes

Going into my 3rd season - in Ontario, Canada my season is basically April - Nov.

Just wanted to share some mistakes I made in the early years so others can learn from them.

  1. Don’t use your personal phone as your business phone. When I started I thought oh no problem I can use my blackberry with unlimited data for personal and business. No. Get a dedicated phone for business - even just a pay as you go phone. You can still have your emails and instant estimates set up to your personal blackberry. This way whenever your business phone rings your know what the calls regarding. Big mistake I made.

  2. Get your vehicle set up right away. My truck was a mess, unorganized and messy. I finally figured out a system (where channels go, where clean cloths and where dirty cloths go, a pvc pipe tube for holding wfp.). Basically having an organized truck is an amazing feeling, it will make you more efficient and customers will notice.

  3. Don’t cheap out on marketing! I would do some marketing, fill up a week or 2 of jobs and then after the jobs are all complete I would be starting at step one again doing marketing. Marketing needs to be a continuous thing no matter how busy your next week is. Dish out the money to get your business in the yellowpages or phone books or angies list ect. It’s worth it.

  4. Don’t do a daily deal - its really just a waste of time, sure you can make some money but those arn’t the clients you want and you didn’t start a business to make $15 an hour.

  5. Keep a detailed customer list! I can’t even explain how important it is! Sure you are in a rush to get to the next job but take the time to get the customers details! Most you should already have you just have to record it in an organized manner. Name, Address, Phone number, Services done and for what price, email, notes on the property.

  6. You don’t need every job. If someone is really cheap and taking up a lot of your time don’t be afraid to tell them how it is: this is the price and this is the earliest day we can fit you in - would you like to book our service? Sometimes you just have to be harsh - some people will try and get under your skin for who knows what reason. Don’t let them, it’s business, don’t change your price and don’t break your back for them.

  7. Business cards are pretty useless. You should still have them but, giving a customer 3 or 4 business cards after service and saying pass them to your friends. There is a next to 0 percent chance they will ever pass a business card on. You think there going to keep them in their pocket or purse so they can hand out?

I know I wrote that kinda matter of factly, but it is just my own opinions and experiences so take it with a grain of salt.

What are some things you guys learnt during your first few years?

  1. Check out google voice numbers. You can adjust the settings to display THAT number, so you know it’s from that dedicated line.
  2. I can’t tell you how many old invoices I had that were titled “John” or “Mr Jones.” - good advice.
  3. You underestimate how much people like to say “I know a guy” or “you should use THESE guys.”
    (besides, trust/previous experience is a big factor when letting strangers into your house.)

Stop forgetting tools everywhere haha

Thanks for posting this. Most of your points are right on and I appreciate your input. Can you explain more about your thoughts on the phone issue. I’m in year 3 and use my iPhone for everything. Why do you think I should have another phone? I don’t really want to carry two phones.

I answer my phone introducing myself as my business if I dont know the number.

Yeah, I definitely agree with keeping a good customer list from the beginning, but I use my phone for everything and just always answer it as if it is a business call if I do not know the phone number. Why two phones?
I also agree with the idea of continual marketing so you build up recognition in people’s minds over time.